Up in my attic someplace are two very old books of poetry – A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, and another I’ve forgotten the title of, quite small and very ragged. I remember my mother reading to me from them, which was my first introduction to reading. I learned how to read at an early age, and it remains a passion today.
Growing up I was always the second fastest reader in my class – Candy Beach (her real name) was always faster than I was, and I could never beat her. One of my favorite times of year was when our classroom got to place orders for books that we could select from a list. I’d excitedly bring the “catalog” home, and wheedle and cajole some money for my mom to buy as many books as possible. A few weeks later they’d come and be distributed, and a couple of days after that, I’d have read them all. I guess that’s about when I started going to our local library to check out books (check out my blog post on my history with libraries here if you haven’t read it).
Even back in grade school, I’d find an author I liked, and read everything they wrote – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (primarily Sherlock Holmes), Edgar Allen Poe, Zane Gray were just a few. I’d go over to Jimmy D’s house, we’d both sit and read for a couple of hours, then I’d go home. I was incredibly fortunate in high school to have an English teacher who would start out every class reading an excerpt from a book, where I got introduced to The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, which opened up a whole new world to me. And then there was Foydor Dostoyevsky – deep, dark brooding books that suited my teenage angst to a T. Oh, and can’t forget Hemmingway!
Dozens of years and authors later, I’m still at it. Mark Twain remains one of my favorites, and I think Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides and many more) was America’s greatest novelist. Okay, I could go on forever about amazing, even life-changing books I have read, but I won’t (at least, not now). Here is what I am reading now: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is primarily set in Bogota, Columbia, from the late 1899’s to around 1930. The title has always fascinated me, and this just seemed like a perfect time to read it. While historical novels have never been high on my list of favorite reads, I love the use of language and descriptive prose detailing granular details of both the physical and social environment of the times.
Next up, when I finish this is The Next Human Die Off (and how to prepare for it) by Robert Chapman. While the premise seems to be based on collapse of sufficient food production that leads to mass starvation, it also addresses plagues. Yeah, sounds a bit dark, but fascinating like looky-loos going past a car wreck. I might need something lighter when I finish it – so, back to my question, What are YOU reading? Please share your recommendations in the comments!